CES is almost here, but it's important to keep in mind that the biggest consolidated electronics show of the year is often a mixed indicator of the year's actual tech trends. Case in point:, where "big" products included smartbooks and Cell TVs, but the major wave of Android phones and the iPad were nowhere to be found.
With that in mind, let's look at CES 2012's Best Of awards winners and see where they are now that the year's about to come to a close. Were they Editors' Choice winners? Were they influential? Did they even arrive at all?
Join me for a look back as we get ready for CES 2013.
People's Voice: Razer Project Fiona
"Razer's Project Fiona concept gaming tablet, shown at CES 2012, suggests that Windows 8 is a serious player in portable gaming, and that Razer is serious about moving into manufacturing computers."
Now: Project Fiona was a concept, and so it's hardly surprising that it doesn't exist. The question is, will it emerge next year -- or ever?
Cameras: Fujifilm X-Pro1
"Fujifilm bolsters its reputation as a quality camera company with the new X-Pro 1, its first mirrorless model. Targeted at professionals, the camera incorporates several innovations, including a promising new sensor and lovely hybrid viewfinder, all in a sleek retro design."
Now: The X-Pro1 debuted in the spring and. It marked a trend of companies without dSLR lines trying to convince enthusiast and professional photographers that mirrorless interchangeable-lens technology could compete with higher-end dSLRs.
Car tech: QNX Car 2 mobile apps platform
"QNX shows us its vision for the future of dashboard technologies, including an innovative application of NFC technology to instantly and automatically Bluetooth pair a smartphone, Ultra HD voice technology that brings stereo CD-quality audio to phone calls, and apps integration for front and backseat passengers."
Now: QNX showed the new platform in January, but it will take three to five years before QNX Car 2 mobile apps appear in a new car model. Cars take a lot more time to develop than consumer electronics. QNX continues to be a major player in the automotive software market.
Cell phones: Nokia Lumia 900
"Nokia uses the Consumer Electronics Show to hold a coming-out party for its new Windows Phone-based Lumia 900, with a 4.3-inch AMOLED screen and dual cameras."
Now: The Nokia Lumia 900 emerged as promised, steeped in a bold, pop-art design that set it far apart from any other phone on the market. However, sales were weaker than Nokia hoped, the camera quality flagged, and Microsoft's Windows Phone 7.5 OS held back Nokia's progress in the face of Android and Apple's swift forward march. As soon as Microsoft announced plans to support HD screen resolutions and dual-core processors this summer, the Lumia 900 faded into the background, only to be replaced by the larger, more advanced Nokia Lumia 920, with its wireless charging and 8.7-megapixel camera.
Emerging tech: MakerBot Replicator
"The MakerBot Replicator one-ups the Cube 3D with 'dualstrusion' technology, meaning it can print objects in multiple colors and materials. Preorders available now for $1,999, shipping in six weeks."
Now: 3D printing has continued to make big strides in both commercial and consumer hardware and applications., we gave the Replicator four stars and said, "For those willing to invest the time and the money, the MakerBot Replicator will provide the most powerful consumer 3D printing experience available."
Home Theater: Simple.TV
"The Simple.TV DVR might just be the next big thing for cable-cutters...a DVR without a built-in hard drive or video output...stream live and recorded over-the-air TV to the Simple.TV app available on iPad, Roku, Boxee, Google TV. Think of it like your own personal cloud for your over-the-air TV."
Now:in October: "Simple.TV's innovative over-the-air DVR solution is far from perfect, but it's a decent budget option if you can't afford a TiVo Premiere." Too many limitations and buggy performance have kept Simple.TV from making much of a mark. Unfortunately, there haven't been many other alternatives for cord-cutters.
PC: HP Envy 14 Spectre
"The newly announced HP Spectre is the most glass-covered laptop we've ever seen...at a CES devoid of many eye-popping laptops, the Spectre could be the most stylish of the bunch."
Now: The big but sleek all-glass Spectre won our Best of PCs award at CES, and it debuted in March,: "The first big high-design laptop of 2012, the HP Envy 14 Spectre is a bold experiment that largely succeeds, if you're willing to pay a premium for it." But it was hardly indicative of the year's biggest PC trends. The was the real harbinger of where Windows 8 and touch led PCs by the end of 2012. The Envy 14 Spectre is a long-gone footnote.
Software and apps: BlueStacks for Windows 8
"Windows 8 just got a kick in the apps via BlueStacks. The program, which will ship preinstalled on select Windows 8 machines, will bring the entire Android marketplace to Microsoft's nascent OS. So when Windows 8 launches, more than 400,000 Android apps will be at your fingertips."
Now: BlueStacks did get released, and works on Windows 8. It opens in Windows 8's desktop mode, and although it's still in beta, it's freely available and runs Android apps as advertised.
Networking: D-Link Amplifi HD Media Router 3000
"When released later this month, D-Link's Amplifi HD Media Router 3000 DIR-857 router will be the first on the market that supports USB 3.0, concurrent 450Mbps dual-band with cloud-based and HD Fuel features that power media streaming."
Now: The router got anback in June, and remains one of our top-recommended routers overall.
Tablets: Asus Memo 370T
"This quad-core, Android 4.0 tablet proves that premium performance doesn't require a premium price. In spite of its $250 asking price, this tablet comes stock with 1GB of system RAM, 16GB of storage, an 8-megapixel camera, HDMI output, and a 1,280x800 resolution IPS screen."
Now: Chalk this up to a big win for CES and early trend-spotting. The Asus Memo 370T was never actually released...but it essentially evolved into the Google Nexus 7 made by Asus, which offered a similar set of head-turning specs for a low price. And yes, indeed, it foretold a year to come where affordable 7-inch tablets would become a major holiday phenomenon.
Best of Show: LG 55EM9600 OLED TV
"The first 55-inch OLED TV announced as shipping in 2012, and the only one to get an actual model number and public ship date ('Q3'), the 55EM9800 promises the superb all-around performance of OLED (absolute black levels, ultrafast panel and excellent viewing angles) in an ultrathin panel."
Now: It made appearances at other shows, but was never released. We're still waiting for OLED to make its debut, but CES 2013 should be another step forward toward that eventuality.